College Counseling - February Update
College Counseling Center
Gerard M. Brett
Director of College Counseling
College Counseling Website of the Month
There’s money out there. Our college website, www.lschs.org/college has links to numerous scholarship search sites as well as a variety of posted scholarship opportunities. Check out “The La Salle College Counseling Center Scholarship List” for a list of scholarships that come into our office. Don’t miss out on these possibilities.
File financial aid forms. Be sure to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as possible. Many colleges have priority deadlines of February 15th or March 1st. Before filling out the FAFSA, register for a PIN at www.pin.ed.gov. This will serve as your electronic signature. The FAFSA application must be completed in order to apply for state, federal, and institutional financial aid. DEADLINES MUST BE MET. It is important to fill out the FAFSA form completely and to estimate if necessary. It is better to meet the deadline and make changes later than to miss the deadline and potentially miss out on financial aid. You can file the FAFSA online at www.fafsa.ed.gov. We strongly encourage everyone to fill out the FAFSA. At the very least it will make your son eligible for several low interest loans such as the Federal Stafford Loan. If there are extenuating circumstances that a college financial aid officer at a college where your son has been admitted should know, do not hesitate to report these changes or circumstances to the colleges.
The FAFSA should be filed as soon as possible. Do not wait until you have filed your federal income tax returns to submit the FAFSA. You can use last year's tax return to start with and then amend the FAFSA application later when you get your return for this year. You will have an opportunity to correct any errors later and will be required to update the application after your taxes are filed. Be sure to check the ‘will file’ box. The US Department of Education will send an email reminder in April to update the FAFSA information after your federal income tax returns have been filed. The best source of information regarding the specific deadlines for each college is on their own financial aid websites.
Certain colleges may also require either their own institutional financial aid form or the College Scholarship Services (CSS) Profile. Be aware of colleges’ requirements and meet the deadlines since many are already currently due.
Keep grades up. Admissions decisions are contingent on the successful completion of all course work. Admissions officers reserve the right to question poor second semester performance and, in some cases, to reverse an admissions decision that has already been made. We have examples of students whose grades dropped second semester resulting in their receiving letters from the college or university they planned to attend informing them their acceptance will now be re-considered.
Return award letter. In March or April, your son should begin receiving merit and need based grant awards from the colleges to which he applied. After he compares award letters, he should pick the college he wants to attend and return the signed award letter to the chosen college. Pay close attention to deadlines for accepting the award package. Deadlines are usually within two weeks after receiving the award letter. If he misses a deadline, he may risk losing a scholarship, grant, or loan assistance.
Communicate. Communicate with faculty and the College Counseling Department. Please encourage your son to thank the teachers who may have written letters of recommendation on his behalf. Please remember to bring copies of all college acceptance and scholarship letters to Mrs. O’Connell in the College Counseling Center.
Decline admission offers to other colleges. After he has chosen and committed to a college, your son should write a note declining admission to colleges where he has been accepted but will not be attending. This will allow students on a wait list to be accepted and awarded the aid previously held for your son.
Submit deposit and housing application. Once your son knows which college he wants to attend, he can submit a housing application and deposit if he will be living on campus. He needs to do this as soon as possible because most rooms are assigned on a first-come first-served basis. The National Reply Date is May 1, 2014.
Do not double deposit. Each year some seniors have a difficult time making up their minds about which college to enroll in after they have been accepted. Students may not send deposits to more than one college on or after May 1st. This is called “double depositing” and is an unethical practice. Should the colleges involved determine that a student has “double deposited” your son’s admission may be jeopardized. This practice is unfair to other applicants. The “double depositor” is taking up a spot that could go to another student, who will instead be wait-listed or turned down. It is an acceptable practice to deposit at one college and maintain your name on a wait list at another. However, indicating to two colleges that you will be attending by sending deposits to both should not be considered.
Students who are planning to participate in Division I or II athletics in college must complete the NCAA Clearinghouse Eligibility form available online at www.eligibilitycenter.org and request that a transcript be sent. See Mrs. O’Connell in the College Counseling Office. Transcripts will be sent to the NCAA upon request and again after graduation. Search “Academics and Athletes” and “Information for College Bound Student-Athletes and Parents” on the NCAA site. NCAA requirements for eligibility are printed at that site, on our College Counseling site and in our school calendar.
College Information Night (for parents of juniors)
February 5, 2014
College Search Process
A wealth of information is available on the Internet about the College Search process. A good starting site is the La Salle College Counseling Department’s comprehensive webpage: www.lschs.org/college. In addition, each college and university has its own website.
According to our current seniors and recent graduates, visiting college campuses is most important in making a good decision. It is most informative if the visits occur while students are on campus so we strongly encourage visits during this second semester. Students should send a follow-up email to the college admissions office after the visit. Information about making successful visits is available in the College Match book that is required for Junior Advisory Class. Please note that the book is available through La Salle’s Campus Store.
Since many admission decisions will be based on the junior year GPA in college preparatory courses we suggest that students take their academic responsibilities most seriously. While participation in activities is a factor used to tip the scales in the admission process, primary focus is on the student’s GPA.
Take advantage of the test preparation module on Naviance ‘Prep Me’ which can be accessed through the student portal. This free program contains a sample electronic SAT and ACT that allows the students to experience both formats. Electronic test prep packets are available for each type of test along with practice tests and tutorials for each section of the tests. Having experience with both types of standardized testing (SAT and ACT) will allow the students to determine the format where they will be most successful in follow-up testing. Each junior should have taken two of the same test – either the ACT with writing component or SAT – by the end of second semester junior year. Short sample tests of the SAT and ACT can be taken to determine which of these two formats is best suited to each student.